September 19, 2015

All that Matters in the Messy Moments

You’ve no doubt had those moments--when harsh reality hits and the world stops spinning for just a bit, or for weeks and months…  You didn’t see it coming, you had hoped and prayed it never would.  But it is here and is not welcome. It could be a death, a crash, a conversation, a crisis.  But in the moment life lies shattered at your feet.  This is not what you’d planned.

If we haven’t yet lived through such moments, we’ve surely seen them: Babies die; marriages self-destruct; dreams unravel; children depart; heroes fall; and, if we are honest with ourselves, we fail, miserably.  It is in the messes of our lives that we discover where our hope lies.

Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Rom.8:24,25

It is in the crushing of our hopes that we discover how we have defined success. For me, I had thought never failing, or at least avoiding mistakes, was tantamount to success.  Keeping my nose clean, making only the best choices, and training my children to do the same--in hopes of us all living happily forever and always-- was my definition of success.  But it’s not God’s.

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Gal.5:6

He’s not so concerned that we fail (nor is He surprised!).  His concern is that we repent.
It is not the sister caught in a sin that He resists, but the one who refuses to call upon her Saviour.
And it is not the good-deed-a-holic that impresses Him, but the one who believes.

Faith in the One who is our very Life is what matters.  And growing and fortifying that faith is God’s priority for His children.  Without it we cannot please Him.  Without it we haven’t got a life.

“…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Jn.20:31

So He allows us to make mistakes, to bring heaps of trouble on ourselves, to parent badly, to  make poor choices and even to live with the consequences.  Though He can, and we pray and plead that He will, God doesn’t always prevent disasters or circumvent consequences, or override our choices.  But He always uses them for our good and His glory.

It’s not that He doesn’t see or care.  It’s just that He has a bigger purpose in mind than our perfect track record or our seamless happiness.  If your own story doesn’t bear this out (yet), pick a Bible story, any story, and slow it down to feel the moments as they play out.  Stop the video as Naomi’s husband and sons die, one by one, leaving her alone in a foreign land…

Listen in as the gate clangs shut on Joseph’s prison cell. He’s done nothing to ‘deserve’ this; he’s been faithful; but here he sits. 

And how was Samson’s mom feeling the day he married Delilah?  She’d followed God’s instructions and raised him as a Nazarite, but he wanted this girl so badly…

John the Baptist, faithful forerunner to Jesus, knew of faithfulness unrewarded.  He lost his head in prison. 

Peter knew failure.  He had betrayed his most valued friend-- His Lord and God!  Talk about disillusionment, what would it have been like to watch the One you’d trusted to save you be crucified Himself?

Messy moments. Painful moments--moments that were impossible to comprehend in the moment.   But each was a masterpiece God was creating.  We see this in hindsight.  But only the eye of faith could have imagined it.   

  • A Moabite, Naomi’s daughter-in-law is planted in the family line of Jesus displaying the glorious grace of God that outshines the Law’s demands. 
  • Joseph emerges from the dungeon to sit at Pharaoh’s right hand with the power to save God’s people from starvation! 
  • Samson regains his faith and his strength and conquers God’s enemies by the laying down of his life. 

We would not have scripted these stories this way.  At least I wouldn’t have!  But each is a story of redemption and of faith.  God saves the day. Messes are made to serve His purposes.  Faith is made strong.  

[A little side note, do you know what Joseph was commended for?  “By faith, Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Heb.11:22 He would not live  to see his beloved home again but he died believing God would be faithful in taking His people back home to their own land one day…]

This is God’s heart for HIs children—that they would believe and so see His great glory.  This is our destiny and it is the overarching story of our lives.  All else pales in importance. 

I read the story of Lazarus’ death today.  There was a crisis.  Lazarus lay dying. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal Him.  He delayed, on purpose.  And Lazarus died. Why? Martha couldn’t understand it:  “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  She knew Jesus could heal him.  But what she did not yet know was that He could raise the dead.  He delayed for the sake of his friends and followers, so that they might believe and behold the glory of God.Jn.11:14,21,40

Our most painful moments may be the ones through which God is most greatly glorified.  

Peter rebounded from his painful failure to write us this encouragement:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I Pet.1:3-9 ESV

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world--faith in the God who sees where we cannot, faith in the God who is good when it’s NOT all good with us and ours. And as I sweep up my own pieces, wipe away tears and look around for Bandaids to patch my heart, I hear the distant strains of a symphony.  It is faint, just barely audible.  It’s the sound of hope, a better hope, dreams yet unimagined.  God is orchestrating circumstances for His own glory and for the refining of His children.  Ours is a God who redeems.  I will set my hope on Him.

--LS 

[Our] Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name! Jer.50:34

“…I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." –Jesus Lk.22:32

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. I Jn.5:4

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Ps.34:18,19

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May I offer you a song in hopes that it will bless your heart as it has mine?
Listen here or go to YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMeFzFUbmJo

“Blessings” by Laura Story

Better yet, two songs ( :

We Believe
Listen on You Tube here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtPmX7e_Rpw&feature=youtu.be

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe, we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation
We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He's coming' back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, we believe!

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised!
In the here and now, let love invade!
Let the church live love our God will save
We believe, we believe!
And the gates of hell will not prevail!
For the power of God, has torn the veil!
Now we know Your love will never fail!
We believe, we believe!

He's comin' back again!
He's comin' back again!
We believe!
We believe

--by Newsboys

Amen!

3 comments:

lukesgospel739 said...

Dear Linda

Very nice post. We are going through a v difficult time just now with our son. This post is good to have.

Thank you

David

Michele Morin said...

Absolutely.
What an infusion of truth here!

Linda said...

I need these truth infusions quite regularly. I think that must be why I write--to put things in words for my heart to grab hold of. I'm glad if it can bless someone else at the same time!